December 3, 2018 / 1:50 PM / 12 days ago

Economic impact of yellow vest protests 'severe' - French fin min

* Anti-fuel tax demonstrations started in mid-November

* Nationwide movement has hit retailers, hotels, stores

* Paris hotel cancellations surge 20-50 percent, industry body

By Inti Landauro and Myriam Rivet

PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Three weeks of “yellow vest” protests have dealt a serious blow to the French economy with retailers, hotel chains, high-street stores and restaurants all seeing a significant fall in trade, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday.

Speaking after a meeting with industry groups and business federations affected by the movement, Le Maire said sector revenues had been hit by between 15 and 50 percent.

While he did not provide a precise breakdown, Le Maire said small retailers had seen a fall in revenue of between 20 and 40 percent, the hotel industry was seeing reservations down 15 to 25 percent and restaurants, depending on their location, had seen takings collapse by between 20 and 50 percent.

“The impact is severe and ongoing,” Le Maire said, emphasising that it was nationwide, although Paris, after riots and looting in some of its most upmarket districts on Saturday afternoon and evening, was particularly affected.

The finance ministry was not able to say what sort of impact the unrest would have on gross domestic product. (Writing by Luke Baker Reporting by Inti Landauro, Pascale Denis, Gilles Guillaume, Gwenaelle Barzic and Myriam Rivet; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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